Eve as Mother Earth?


I came across this idea in my Bible reading and I couldn’t get away from it. Given a symbolic starting point for Genesis 1-3, what do you think of these points:

  1. “Adam” seems more of prototypical human symbol than individual–it seems less a proper name than a title: “the man.”

  2. “Eve” as a proper name is introduced right at the end of the Creation & Fall narrative. Before that, she is “the woman,” as a corollary to “the man.” As “Eve,” she is called “the mother of all living,” or “the mother of all living things.” The next time the word for “living” is used, is immediately after the Flood, God promises never again to destroy “all the living,” which seems to imply “more than just humans.”

  3. Adam (“the man”) is made from “the ground” - the word play in Hebrew between “the man” and “the ground” is painfully obvious. He comes from “the ground” and returns to “the ground.”

  4. Part of the curses of the Fall, specifically to the woman, is that she would experience increased pain in childbirth. The meanings and implications are confusing and ambiguous.

  5. Here’s the clincher: Romans 8:20-22 - “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”


(RiderOnTheClouds) #2

I don’t know if the Ancient Hebrews had this idea. They apparently did believe in some form of the cosmic egg myth however, as shown by how the spirit (who is grammatically female) hovers (literally ‘broods’) over the waters.

(Jay Johnson) #3
  1. Agreed
  2. Agreed on Eve, but not on the flood connection. “Living” certainly can be used of both animals and human beings, just as in English, but I don’t think that means Eve is pictured as the mother of all living creatures, both animal and human, in Genesis 3:20. The connection is too distant (in the text) and tenuous to make it a cornerstone of your interpretation. Also, I think that hay is used in Gen. 5:5 (Adam lived 930 years, and then he died), which makes the connection to 8:21 even more problematic.
  3. Agreed.
    4-5. Interesting connection. Many have speculated about the meaning of “creation groaning” and the connection to freedom from death and decay. Obviously, 8:20 connects it to God’s curse, and the analogy to “pains of childbirth” refer us to Gen. 3:16.

Since Paul specifically connects sin and death starting in Romans 5, and since he begins chap. 8 with a recapitulation of his argument in chap. 5 that Christ, the man of obedience, has reversed the effects of the Fall (“through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death”), I think the “glorious freedom from death and decay” refers to day when “the Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil” (Matt. 13:41). The connection between sin and death in Romans leads me to believe that what Paul has in mind is human freedom from our present bondage to sin and death. (Animals aren’t in bondage to sin.) In other words, the creation itself will be set free when “everything that causes sin and all who do evil” are removed from the kingdom of God. In the kingdom, when the children of God truly reflect the goodness and beauty of their Maker, all of creation will benefit, not just humanity’s little corner of it.

(Christy Hemphill) #4

As a woman, I object theologically to the idea, because it makes males the normative human. It takes away the equal partnership between males and females as the complete humanity and complete image of God that Genesis presents.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #5

Similar ideas I found were explored in depth by the Georges in The Mythology of Eden. The book is quite interesting, but I found a talk that summarizes his main thoughts… which is through the Mythicist Milwaukee channel. So my only complaint of the video is the sometimes simplistic viewpoints and silly questions the hosts give him but here is the section summarizing Arthur George’s viewpoint on Eve as the Mother Earth goddess (goes on for a few minutes):

I think George’s book is quite interesting and worth having around to explore various ideas in more detail.


Really? You see it that way? Hmmm…because “the man” (I’m not sure there’s an indication that “Adam” is ever intended to be a proper name) comes from “the ground” (adama) as some kind of paradigmatic human rather than an individual, but that doesn’t make him (as “male”) “the normative human.” If anything, Eve is “the mother of all living,” but “the man” is only “more than dirt” by virtue of his spirit/breath.

It reads to me that the “image of God” is not complete with woman. The problem with symbolism is it’s hard to pin down.

(Christy Hemphill) #7

I understand symbolism can work on multiple levels, but Adam is presented as a male and Eve is presented as a female so if Eve symbolizes earth not humanity, then you mess up the story on multiple levels. The creation of Eve is clearly to give Adam a counterpart he could not find in the animal kingdom. That doesn’t make sense if humanity’s counterpart is the Earth. You also lose all significance of the Genesis teaching on marriage. Whenever there is an alternative interpretation I always ask, what do you lose/what do you gain compared with other interpretations. If Eve is Mother Earth you maybe gain some parallels with other ANE mythology, some parallels with other verses. But you lose a lot. You lose meaning in the whole rib episode, meaning in the institution of marriage, meaning in the partnership of subduing the earth (and how does that work if the earth is the woman?).

I know Adam means humanity, not male (there is word play with a similar word for earth/ground, it is not the same word). And Eve means life, not female. Both names represent aspects of humanity that aren’t exclusive to one gender. Adam is used as a proper name in Genesis (without the definite article) in some of its uses. Adam and Eve the characters are gendered in the story. So if one of the gendered characters symbolizes all of humanity and the other gendered character symbolizes nature, that is problematic in a way that two gendered characters symbolizing humanity is not.

What you you read Eve as mother earth trying to teach or explain?


Ah, I see what you’re saying.

Not sure…but I think the corrupted condition of all creation, not just humanity.

(system) #9

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